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The Psychedelic Legacy of Rick Griffin

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As a freshman in high school, the late Rick Griffin was charging 50 cents to draw surf characters on t-shirts. Now, some 60 years later, Last Wave is stoked to offer a t-shirt featuring Griffin’s famous Murph the Surf!

Rick Griffin influenced both modern surf art and the revolutionary music scene of the ‘60s. After meeting Surfer Magazine founder John Severson (who is also regarded by many as the inventor of “surf art”) in 1960, Griffin produced a cartoon strip called “The Gremmies” for just the second issue of Severson’s new surf publication.“Murph” was introduced in the very next issue, and continued to appear in every issue thereafter until late 1964.

After moving to San Francisco in 1966, Griffin began getting jobs in the music and arts industries. Remember hearing about the “Be-In”, held during The City’s Summer of Love? Well, it was Rick’s art that was featured on the poster announcing that famous event! He went on to produce concert poster art and created album cover artwork for such notable bands as the Grateful Dead, The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Quicksilver Messenger Service. 

Growing up a couple hundred miles south of San Francisco, I vividly remember visiting San Francisco during the summer of 1966…the same summer I started surfing. I was a 13 year-old kid on a youth field trip for my church. The leader decided that taking us through the Haight-Ashbury district would be a memorable experience. Well, he was right. Tie-dyed clothes, bell bottomed pants, flowers in everyone’s hair, people running around blowing bubbles and strumming guitars on doorsteps. I will never forget.

Sadly, the hugely talented Rick Griffin died in a motorcycle accident in 1991. He left us with an art style that brings back so many memories of a great time in history. It seems that the period’s music, art and of course surfing are hard to match. In future issues of these Last Wave ramblings, I will delve more into the arts…the surf arts that is! What lifestyle has its own art, music and movies? The surf lifestyle has it all!!

Aloha,

Ted

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